Monday nights have long held significance for Madison Irish rockers The Kissers. Every venue at which the band has played a reoccurring gig has been been scheduled on a Monday night, from O'Cayz Corral to the Malt House.
St. Patrick's Day is also a special day for the group. Even during the Kissers' several-year "semi-retirement," the band reemerged on St. Patrick's day for at least one show every year.
This year, the two events coincide, and The Kissers will play a special show at the High Noon Saloon. At the High Noon show, and at several others throughout the month, concertgoers can sip The Kissers' Monday Night Special Imperial Black IPA, a special release from Tyranena Brewery.
77 Square talked to Ken Fitzsimmons about the Kissers:
Have The Kissers ever done a beer and band pairing before? Where did the idea come from?
This is a first. It came from my brain. All I can remember is when I thought of it, which was last fall. We’ve been playing Tyranena for a long time, and we were playing their Oktoberfest bike ride. I thought it would be the coolest thing ever to have a beer named after us. Tyranena was just the logical choice.
What was the process for creating the beer?
I just said, “Hey guys, we’d love it if you would name a beer after The Kissers. Let’s have it on tap for our St. Patrick’s day shows. You make the beer. You do what you do best. You don’t need any input from me.” We did talk a little bit about what flavor, maybe a stout or a porter, something Irish. In the end, I was like, “I don’t care. I don’t need it to be an Irish beer, just make a good beer.” Not that I was worried about them making a bad beer. They came up with this idea of a black IPA. I like that even better, that it’s not like a more typical, what people typically think of when they hear “Irish beer.” And it fits the name well. Monday Night Special Imperial Black IPA.
Where and when can people get it?
It’s a draft-only beer. To get it, they have to come to the shows. The Looking Glass in Janesville on Friday, Tyranena on Saturday. And the High Noon on Monday, on St. Patrick’s Day.
What’s the significance of Monday night for the Kissers?
It’s got history. Our first Monday night started in 1998 at O’Cayz Corral. Just to really show how old we are. We’d only been playing for a few months. Cathy knew about us, and we played there for two-and-a-half years until the club burned. And then we did a brief stint at Ken’s Bar that year, just a few of us, and then we moved over to the Crystal Corner. We were always just Monday nights. We talked about doing a different night of the week, and Monday night is just, it’s become a thing for us. It’s one of those funny nights where, it’s like the worst night of the week in a sense for a show. Who wants to go out on Monday night? But the fact is there’s usually very little going on on Monday night … but if you are something going on, whoever is looking for something to do, there are fewer options. Maybe we’re just the lowest common denominators, I don’t know.
Our very first album was live from O’Cayz. We called it “Kissers on a Monday Night.” It was a coincidence that the Malt House, they got their live music going, and they were just doing Mondays. It was perfect.
And the show at the High Noon is the big one this year, right? What do you have planned for that?
We’re doing some extra stuff this year. Besides the band and beer pairing, we’ve added an early family-friendly show. This will be The Kissers’ 16-year anniversary. If you can imagine, there’s a certain evolution of fans which happens over that period of time, one of which makes it appropriate to have a more family-friendly show. Three of the guys in the band are dads. It’s from 5:30-7 p.m., the family show. Essentially it’s just a Kissers show. It’s not significantly different. It’s just early, maybe not quite as loud. We’ll have some of the Cashel Dennehy Irish dancers dancing and will have on-site t-shirt screen printing.
The regular 21+ starts at 8:00. It’ll be a traditional St. Patrick’s extravaganza, with a full band, all seven of us. There’s sometimes a question, is it traditional acoustic or full band? It’s a full band set with some trad stuff interspersed throughout.
Another thing with the family show — we wanted to make it affordable. I’m a parent, and other people are — so it’s $5 a person and $10 a family. We wanted to make it really accessible. We’re always scouring the paper for 5:00 shows and stuff that we can do, so we’re basically putting together a show that we would want to go to. And The Kissers beer will be available at the family-friendly show, too.
Tell me about the new Kissers album.
That’s pretty exciting. It’s mainly a traditional album. It sort of spun out of the Malt House gig. We started playing that, I think in 2009. We actually sit on a table, instead of standing up on the end of the bar, we're on a table in the middle of the room. It’s significant to do it that way. The Malt House is also my neighborhood bar. I live like two blocks from it, which is awesome. I just want it to be fun, first of all, just to have a good time and play whatever we want to. And to emulate what it’s like when you go to an actual Irish bar. The virtue of the Malt House is the tables are close together, forcing people to interact with each other — so let’s extend that to the band.
Naturally it’s a more traditional Irish repertoire, so we’ve been doing that a lot. We show up and learn tunes along the way. We started actually working on this stuff and we recorded a demo recording of a few sets of tunes at Glass House Studios, and it sounded great. We’ve got recording dates scheduled and are hoping for a release in October of this year. It’ll be our first release since 2008.
What’s sometimes confusing for people is, we labeled it appropriately so, a “farewell for now” show in 2008. Even when we were semi-retired, we would still come out on St. Patrick’s Day. And as of about 2010 or 2011, we’re officially calling ourselves an active band, out of semi-retirement. The band has gone through many lineup changes over the years, but this lineup solidified in early 2012. It’s an incredible band.
It’s kind of a theme of bands, as a band you’re always trying to get your name out there, and do creative marketing, basically. The Internet’s a great equalizer, but it’s also a very noisy place. Some of the old rules still apply. You’ve got to a) play good music and b) do cool things.